Tale of Four Generals and a Babe with Bad Attitude

I would like to share a speculative tale that had been in circulation in the Indian Army for some time and makes an interesting read as a fictional work on the character of Indira Gandhi, the assassinated Prime Minister of India.
Four Generals and a Babe
The 1971 Indo-Pak War saw the humiliating defeat and surrender of Pakistani Army at the hands of Indian Army. There was a lot of celebration and claims for credit for this historic victory. Let's now look at some of the key characters of this period with a little humor and malice.

The Babe: Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi

Indira Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister was idolized as "The Iron Lady" by her sycophants and took full credit for the military victory in the international media. An impatient Indira Gandhi, backed by her eager-to-please Cabinet, wanted Sam Manekshaw to conduct a swift, surgical strike on East Pakistan and install a government led by Mujibur Rehman, the popular Bengali leader. In fact, she wanted the war so badly that she was willing to risk the lives of Indian soldiers by sending them to war in the middle of Monsoon in East Bengal. ‘Sam’ accepted his commander’s advice and did not budge when requested by the political leadership to launch operations immediately. He was adamant about delaying the military campaign till the monsoon had receded. This infuriated Indira but she had no choice but to wait. She later became very "insecure" about the popularity of Indian Army and feared a military coup.

The Handshake and the "Blush"

General 1: Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, the 8th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army, was elevated to a Five Star General and got the baton of Field Marshal. Manekshaw was a popular figure in Army and was a favorite of Indira Gandhi. In fact, he became so proud of the victory that he once claimed that Pakistan could have won the 1971 war if he had been the General of Pakistani Army.
Gen Sam Maneckshaw with Indira Gandhi
His relationship with Indira Gandhi has been a gossip in the past. Once at a presidential banquet, he approached Indira and said, "You look very pretty tonight ...". Surrounded by her ministers, Indira blushed and said ..."Thank you, Sam".

The most glorious chapter in the annals of the Indian Army made Manekshaw became a household name and soon after the victory he was mobbed by admirers all over the country and often asked when he was going to take over the reins of power in India.
Kiss Your Own Sweetheart
The rumors of a coup-d-etat had got so strong that he was called by Indira Gandhi and confronted over the reports. ``When I walked into the Prime Minister's chamber in Parliament House, she was looking forlorn and directly asked me whether I was trying to stage a coup to topple her." The Field Marshal replied ``Madam Prime Minister, don't you think I would not prove to be a worthy replacement,'' as he asserted that there was no move by the Army to stage a coup.
Mutual Admiration - Indira with Manekshaw
Indira returned the favor by making him the Field Marshal Of Indian Armed forces. By doing so, she had killed two birds with a single arrow. Not only had she pacified a popularity seeker Manekshaw, she had also drawn curtains on the career of another ascending star of Indian Army - Lt. General Jagjit Singh Aurora.

General 2: Lt. General Jagjit Singh Aurora

Lt. General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the GOC in charge of Eastern Sector became the face of the Indian Army with the public coverage of Pakistani surrender. On December 3, 1971, the night before D-Day with Pakistan, Aurora ordered a bottle of Black Dog at his Kolkata Command residence. He raised his glass, toasted his top officers and said, ‘‘Gentleman, the war starts tomorrow. After this drink, let’s get down to business.’’

Under the command of Lt. General J.S. Aurora, the three Corps of the Indian Army, which had invaded East Pakistan, entered Dhaka and forced Pakistani forces to surrender on 16 December 1971 , one day after the conclusion of the battle of Basantar. After Pakistan’s Lt General A A K Niazi signed the Instrument of Surrender, India took more than 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war. At the time of the signing of the Instrument of Surrender, 11,000 Pakistani soldiers were killed-in-action while India suffered only 3,500 battle-related deaths.

Indira wanted Manekshaw to lead the surrender ceremony. With his inimitable modesty, Manekshaw declined to preside over the Pakistani surrender in Dhaka. He insisted that the credit go to the Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora. He jocularly remarked that he would go only to accept the surrender of the entire Pakistani Army.
Pak Gen Niazi surrender to Gen Aurora
General Aurora had masterminded the operations that included training of Bangladesh rebels Muktibahini under supervision of Major General Shabeg Singh and the capture of Dhaka. The Eastern Command wanted Dhaka as the final objective but the East Pakistan capital was missing from Manekshaw’s battle plans. An intense debate ensued at Fort William in Calcutta, the army’s Eastern Command headquarters, and battle plans were modified to include the capture of Dhaka as a key objective of the attack on East Pakistan.

Even today, Army ranks have bewildered admiration for Aurora’s blistering victory. Not simply for its short duration but for the methods Aurora used. Col P S Vasudevan, Aurora’s staff officer during the war, said, ‘‘The beauty of his strategy is that there were no major engagements with Pakistan during the war. He instructed his men to form penny pockets that surrounded Pakistani units and cut them off from each other. It was a brilliant strategy.’’

General Aurora with President Mujib Rehman of Bangladesh
General Aurora was destined to succeed Sam Manekshaw as the next Chief of Indian Army. Just like Manekshaw, General Aurora was immensely popular with the soldiers and Indira feared the dashing Sikh officer. She consulted her cabinet that was full of sycophants and brown nosed politicians.

Indira with her cabinet ministers
The politician in charge of India's destiny, executed a master stroke. Indira decided to extend the term of retiring Sam Manekshaw by elevating him to Field marshal. The clever strategy was designed to keep the friendly Manekshaw warming the seat of Chief till General Jagjit Singh Aurora retired.

General 3: Major General JFR Jacob

Major General JFR Jacob was a Baghdadi Jew from Calcutta and a field commander in the Eastern Sector. Upon his retirement, he wrote his biography and claimed all credit for the war. General Jacob published “Surrender at Dacca: Birth of a Nation”, an implausible chronicle of the Bangladesh campaign of 1971 that essentially argued that the official history was cockamamie.
Lt. General JFR Jacobs
Jacob unblushingly claimed that he had masterminded that campaign; while his boss, and his boss’ boss— eastern army commander (Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora) and the army chief (General, later Field Marshal, Sam Manekshaw) — were incompetent figureheads who garnered the credit.

General Jacobs arranging Surrender Ceremony
In fact, Jacob's only shining moment in the Bangladesh war was arranging the surrender ceremony in Dacca that was essentially a staff function that he carried out flawlessly. Whatever axe he may have to grind with Sam Manekshaw, credit must be given where due. Aurora cannot be dismissed as a nonentity or Sam as a dimwit as Jacob was subtly trying to project.

General 4: Major General Shabeg Singh

Major General Shabeg Singh AVSM and PVSM (1925-1984), was a distinguished Indian Army officer noted for his service in training of Mukti Bahini volunteers during the Bangladesh Liberation War. 
Major General Shabeg Singh, AVSM, PVSM
The GOC of Indian Army, Lt. General Jagjit Singh Aurora specially selected Shabeg Singh, then a brigadier, and made him in-charge of Delta Sector with lead Quarters at Agartala. He was given the responsibility of planning, organizing and directing insurgency operations in the whole of Central and East Bangladesh. Under his command were placed all the Bangladesh officers that had deserted from the Pakistan Army. These included Col Osmani, as adviser, Maj Zia-Ur-Rehman and Mohammad Mustaq. General Zia Ur Rehman later became the President of Bangladesh while Mustaq Mohammed became Bangladesh army chief.
Gen Shabeg Singh with Bangla Mukti Bahini Gen Jia Ur Rehman
After the war, Major General Shabeg Singh accused his superior General TPN Raina of corruption. General Raina, a Kashmiri went on to become the Chief of Indian Army after Manekshaw was retired.The vindictiveness of the Army Chief was made obvious, when one day prior of Gen Shabeg's retirement, on April 30, 1976 the hero of Mukti Bahini, a highly decorated general with PVSM & AVSM, was dismissed from the Army on flimsy charges of corruption.

Major General Shabeg Singh was honorable acquitted of all charges by Supreme Court but it came sadly after his death in the hands of his own army at Operation Blue Star.

The Betrayal

The Simla Agreement (or Shimla Agreement) was signed between India and Pakistan on July 2, 1972 in Simla, the capital city of Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It was arranged after the surrender of Pakistani Army in Bangladesh and Indian troops advancing towards Lahore, in West Pakistan.
India with Bhutto at Simla Agreement
The agreement documented the transfer of 90,000 Pakistani POWs to Pakistan, the withdrawal of Indian troops which were menacingly advancing towards Lahore, and reciprocal withdrawal of Pakistanis from Chhamb sector in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Simla Agreement gave away the achievements of Indian Armed Forces - Army, Navy, and Airforce in a behind the door agreement between politicians. This was rued by the Indian soldiers who felt it as a btrayal of their accomplishments.

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw reiterated that India had lost a golden opportunity to solve the Kashmir issue ``once and for all'' at the Shimla Indo-Pak. summit when Indira Gandhi had let off late the Pakistani Prime Minister, Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, with a mere promise on the issue when India held 1 lakh Pakistani prisoners of war and some territory on the western front.

"While Jaggi did all the work, I got the baton of Field Marshal," Sam Manekshaw told famous journalist Shiv Aroor on 3 May 2005 when he went to him for a quote on the death of 1971 hero Lt Gen Aurora, ‘‘He was just like me. He was a first class soldier who did a first class job.’’ That’s how Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw will always remember Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, his Eastern Commander who swept into Dhaka in December, 1971 and forced the Pakistan Army to surrender.It shows the character of the two General - They were so quick to give credit, so hesitant to claim it.

References

  1. http://archive.indianexpress.com/oldStory/69686/
  2. http://www.thehindu.com/2003/04/04/stories/2003040403741300.htm
  3. https://forums.bharat-rakshak.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=4108&start=80
  4. http://www.thehindu.com/2003/04/04/stories/2003040403741300.htm
  5. https://wideawakegentile.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/the-lies-of-general-j-f-r-jacob/
  6. http://ajaishukla.blogspot.in/2011/06/broadsword-book-review-lt-gen-jfr-jacob.html
  7. http://www.boloji.com/index.cfm?md=Content&sd=Articles&ArticleID=7714
  8. http://www.scrolldroll.com/sam-manekshaw-showed-he-was-the-most-badass-army-general-ever/

Comments

  1. Both Nehru & his daughter were promoters of sycophancy as well as of dynasty politics.Nehru created Kashmir problem & Indira intentionally lost the opportunity to resolve it.Both were worked for their personal gain & considered self interest before nation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed ... Nehru prevented the Hindu and Sikh refugees from settling in J&K. They were forced to travel on road and trains to Amritsar border. In this long journey, they were salaughtered by pro-Pakistani rioters. If only he had settled these enterprising punjabis in Kashmir, we would not have the Kashmir problem of today.

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    2. Which politician does not appreciate & encourage sycophancy ? They all come up the same way & in turn expect the same form others in the chain.

      Delete
  2. Excellent... But totally disagree the negative role of our soldiers. And even if they had dark shades, we need not to present it in public. They are defenders of our boundaries, a mistake here or there does not qualify for severe comments. Look at blunders executed by these civil servants and compare them with errors of armed forces.

    Whereas, the politicians are concerned, sycophancy was there during Indira regime and today also its there in 2017 of Modi era. This stigma or to be more brutal, this characteristics of Indian Politics can be reversed only when the civil servants are rein properly.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi,

    I am working on a film which deals with the 1971 war. I would love to chat with you and get your thoughts on some areas of research. Could you share an email address with me please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  4. Himalayan blunders of two most popular PMs of India : Nehru for 62 debacle and Indira forfailing to have the Kashmir issue solved when 90000 Pakistani PW were held. Sacrifices of brave faujis wasted by arrogant political heads.

    ReplyDelete

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